Tracy Martin readily admits he struggles with regular bouts of guilt over the fate of his 17-year-old son, Trayvon. He wasn’t at home in Sanford, Florida, the night his unarmed son was shot and killed as he walked home from the store with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of Arizona Ice Tea.
George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, was found not guilty of the second-degree murder of the teenager earlier this month after his lawyers argued it was self-defense.
“I think I feel the guilt that any father would feel who loses a child,’’ Martin told The Daily Beast. “There is a certain amount of guilt at not being able to save my son, and not being able to be there for him like he was for me when he saved me from a fire when he was 9 years old. I couldn’t do that for him as a parent and that is a very painful feeling to live with. But I also know, had I been home, I wouldn’t have heard the incident so I wouldn’t have been able to stop what happened.’’
Martin took a heartfelt message of fatherly love to Capitol Hill on Wednesday where he urged Congress to work to improve the educational and employment opportunities for young Latinos and African-Americans.
Only 52 percent of black males graduate from high school, compared with 78 percent of white, non-Latino males, according to a 2012 report from the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Black males are incarcerated at a rate more than nine times that of white males ages 18–19, according to the 2011 Bureau of Justice figures.
Democrat Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District of Columbia’s delegate to Congress, and Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) organized the inaugural hearing of the Congressional Black Caucus on Black Men and Boys to discuss the many obstacles and issues that continue to face black men. Martin said President Obama’s speech last week referencing the murder and trial for his son only increased his resolve to work nonstop to change the lives of young men of color. He and Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, founded the Trayvon Martin Foundation last year to raise awareness of the way violent crime impacts the families of victims.
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